News for April 26, 2000

UCI rankings: Zabel edges closer to top

The latest UCI men's rankings have been released after last Saturday's Amstel Gold Race. Race winner and the best performed rider in the classics, Erik Zabel (Telekom) has managed to overtake Francisco Casagrande to move into second position, 822 points behind Laurent Jalabert. Michael Boogerd, despite placing second in the Amstel actually lost points because he did not perform as well as he did last year. By the same token, Jan Ullrich continues to cling on to his top 10 position, despite having done nothing this year. He will have to perform in the latter half of the season if he is to retain the bulk of his points, but a Tour win would probably alleviate that. Andrei Tchmil is just four points behind him though...

The teams standings have tightened up in the first division, with Deutsche Telekom really closing the gap on Mapei now. Only 30 points separate the two and the next few races could see a turnaround, especially considering the German team's success in the Rund um Köln yesterday. There is daylight between second and third (ONCE-Deutsche Bank) and this will not be closed soon.

There were no big changes in the lower divisions however, with Credit Agricole still holding their advantage over Cantina Tollo in the second division, and De Nardi-Pasta Montegrappa leading division III. As always, Italy remains on top in the nations rankings followed by Spain and France.

UCI rankings as of April 24, 2000

1 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank                2,625.75 pts
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                        1,803.00
3 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec           1,773.00
4 Abraham Olano Manzano (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank           1,656.75
5 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Vini Caldirola-Sidermec              1,579.00
6 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                         1,421.00
7 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                       1,403.00
8 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco                             1,399.00
9 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Liquigas-Pata                          1,363.00
9 Markus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank                                  1,363.00
11 Jann Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r Prévoyance-Décathlon               1,328.00
12 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca            1,319.00
13 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service                     1,304.00
14 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                              1,278.00
15 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Deutsche Telekom-ARD             1,200.00
16 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step                        1,076.50
17 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Lampre-Daikin                         1,022.00
18 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                        1,016.00
19 Alex Zuelle (Swi) Banesto                                   1,011.00
20 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                         1,008.00
21 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Polti                                 1,003.00
22 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step                     985.00
23 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                   982.00
24 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Farm Frites                           945.50
25 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) Liquigas-Pata                          943.00
26 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Jean Delatour                          940.00
27 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Saeco-Valli & Valli                      938.00
28 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli                     926.00
29 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre-Daikin                            912.00
30 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Deutsche Bank         896.00
31 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) Polti                                 894.00
32 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                           886.00
33 Fernando Escartin Coti (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca               869.00
34 Igor Gonzalez Galdeano Aranzabal (Spa) Vitalicio Seguros      865.00
35 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Cantina Tollo-Regain                     859.00
36 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Cofidis                             851.50
37 Angel Luis Casero Moreno (Spa) Festina-Lotus                  851.00
38 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Saeco-Valli & Valli                    850.00
39 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step                       849.00
40 José Maria Jimenez Sastre (Spa) Banesto                       829.00
41 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Farm Frites                              812.00
42 Leonardo Piepoli (Ita) Banesto                                807.00
43 Wladimir Belli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                            801.00
44 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step                792.00
45 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                     762.50
46 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) Mapei-Quick Step                           755.00
47 Ivan Gotti (Ita) Polti                                        754.00
48 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Deutsche Telekom-ARD                     738.00
49 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank                                     737.00
50 François Simon (Fra) Bonjour-Toupargel                        722.00

Teams, division I:

1 Mapei - Quick Step                                           3,249.00 pts
2 Team Deutsche Telekom                                        3,219.00
3 O.N.C.E. - Deutsche Bank                                     2,512.75
4 Rabobank                                                     2,375.00
5 Farm Frites                                                  2,136.00
6 Vini Caldirola - Sidermec                                    1,515.00
7 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                             1,474.00
8 Banesto                                                      1,430.00
9 Fassa Bortolo                                                1,392.00
10 Vitalicio Seguros                                           1,345.00
11 Kelme - Costa Blanca                                        1,311.00
12 Lotto - Adecco                                              1,306.00
13 Lampre - Daikin                                             1,294.00
14 Ag2R Prevoyance                                             1,020.00
14 Memorycard - Jack & Jones                                   1,020.00
16 Liquigas - Pata                                               998.00
17 La Francaise Des Jeux                                         892.00
18 Festina                                                       830.00
19 US Postal Service                                             778.00
20 Team Polti                                                    608.00
21 Saeco - Valli & Valli                                         600.00
22 Mercatone Uno - Albacom                                       598.00

Teams, division II

1 Credit Agricole                                              1,214.00 pts
2 Cantina Tollo                                                1,055.00
3 Euskaltel - Euskadi                                            858.00
4 Jean Delatour                                                  705.00
5 Palmans - Ideal                                                647.00
6 Mercury Cycling Team                                           639.00
7 Alessio SGM                                                    571.00
8 Bonjour                                                        396.00
9 Uniao Ciclista Da Maia/MSS                                     297.00
10 Team Gerolsteiner                                             263.00

Teams, division III

1 De Nardi - Pasta Montegrappa                                   464.00 pts
2 Bosch Hausgeräte - Sport Kärnten                               403.00
3 Team Shaklee                                                   298.00
4 Team Hohenfelder - Concorde                                    249.00
5 Stabil Steiermark                                              204.00
6 Axa Professional Cycling Team                                  129.00
7 Jelly Belly Cycling Team                                       113.00
8 Kia - Villiger Suisse                                          112.00
9 7Up - Colorado Cyclist                                         107.00
10 Gresco - Tavira                                                77.00


1 Italy                                                       11,131.00 pts
2 Spain                                                        9,686.75
3 France                                                       7,958.25
4 Belgium                                                      7,801.50
5 Germany                                                      7,148.50
6 Switzerland                                                  6,759.00
7 Netherlands                                                  5,960.50
8 U.S.A.                                                       4,429.00
9 Russia                                                       4,083.00
10 Denmark                                                     3,814.00

Armstrong at last

With his second place in today's Paris-Camembert (won by Didier Rous), Lance Armstrong has shown that the form is coming. Second in this race is of course not the same as second in last year's Amstel Gold race, but this year a crash split the field and held him from the top positions. He actually crashed with 15 kilometres to go in Paris-Camembert, but was able to get back up to record an excellent second place. His sports director, Johan Bruyneel thinks that he is in better form this year than last:

"Our team really wanted to fight today and we did. I am satisfied with the level we could show here. Lance really rode superbly on Saturday as well, although the distance of a World Cup race is a bit too much at this time. Today the last part of the race was similar, but with less distance and Lance's form is already good enough for races like this," said Bruyneel

"I think that he is in a better physical shape than at this time last year. He just had a very good day at Amstel. This year he will do the same programme as last, but now he will not have to use a lot of extra energy since he knows the stages and also will try a couple of them at Dauphiné Liberé."

After the GP Gippingen on Sunday Armstrong will train, but not specially for the Tour. He might ride the Midi Libre in May, where Jan Ullrich will come back to the peloton, in order to get some racing in during that period. Then the build up will be Classique des Alpes, the Dauphiné and the Route du Sud.

Donati disses EPO test

Outspoken Italian doping expert, Sandro Donati is not convinced that the test to detect EPO being worked on by Australian, French, and American scientists is any better than the existing methods. In a recent interview with Italian radio station, "Radio Corsa", Donati compares the test to the Italian CONI protocol "I don't risk my health", saying that it is not a lot different. He states that it is not an antidoping test, because "it doesn't test for the substance in urine," the traditional means for an antidoping test.

The Australian test is new in that it involves a model that assigns probabilities to whether a subject has doped, depending on several hematic parameters. "I think that my Australian colleagues are exaggerating and that one should look for exact methods to find up till now undetectable substances in the urine," he told Radio Corsa.

He believes the IOC (the International Olympic Committee) have not done their homework properly in supporting this test at the right time. "They should ordered long ago a serious study involving the most eminent researchers in the field," he said.

The CONI campaign involves a complete blood test (hematocrit, hemoglobin, ferritin, reticolocytes count (newly formed red blood cells) and soluble transferrin receptors. There are several other parameters that are tested, but they are only examined if there is an anomaly in the base-parameters.

They also focus on the individuality of each athlete, but try to keep everyone within their own norms. "For instance, instead of the unique 50% haematocrit threshold, everyone will have to stay under a level extracted via reference to his medium level, which is fixed within a certain margin. In this way, everyone is kept closer to their real levels," he said.

He believes that some of these tests are working to prevent doping in the peloton, but points out that we should also be examining the times of riders up certain climbs or in races, to see if they are still riding at high speed. Cyclists are still undergoing heavy health risks if this is the case, according to Donati.

Responsibility is tricky though - the athletes are always the first because they are the ones who wind up taking the drugs. However, he criticises "doctors, who get rich looking after sportsmen, as well as other people who trade these substances and are interested in promoting messages that attract athletes." Also, the pharmaceutical firms get a broadside from Donati, who "pretend not to realise that some substances are sold in greater quantities than are required by sick people. The French paper "Le Monde" conducted some research showing that for every sick person who takes EPO, there are 6/7 sportsmen using it."

Apart from destroying a rider's health, doping also has a negative effect on racing by increasing the speed. On a flat course, it's much harder to attack and stay away when the average speed is 5-6 km/h higher. "Now, when the field decides to chase a breakaway rider, whoever they are, they can do it very easily. I think that the international organisations should think about this aspect to protect the great sport of cycling. The tactics are what makes it different from other sports like athletics," he says.

Finally, he calls teams that dismiss their riders for failing a hematocrit test "cowardly", because "if he acquired some bad habits, then you can't suddenly leave him all alone facing his trouble. Especially as it may have been known before for several months by team managers, but who are ready to abandon him for an image matter. Let’s try to create a controlled environment for these young athletes."

First rider signed with Cees Priem's new team

Cees Priem has his first rider for his new team next year according to the Provincial Zeeland Newspaper. The rider is almost sure to be Peter van Petegem (according to Gerrie Knetemann, Netherlands national coach). Rudy Pevenage, assistant team manager of Team Telekom, said: "We talked with Peter van Petegem, but his relationship with Priem is so strong."

Geert van Bondt, Servais Knaven and other former TVM riders are also reported to be interested in the new team. Other Farm Frites riders ("but no names, please") said that Teun van Vliet (Farm Frites team manager), is losing his influence on the team. The strict alcohol prohibition and the strong discipline imposed by him have made several people unhappy, not least the riders.

Guido van Calster, the PR man of Farm Frites, has been on half-pay for some time (because he has been meeting with Priem) and now he has been offered compensation, which he hasn't accepted yet. Hendrik Redant and Egon van Kessel are uncertain whether to stay with the team as well.

Thanks to Reiner Meijer for this information

Amsterdam RAI Dernyrace

Boogerd and Ruinemans
Photo: © Bert Geerts

This weekend (April 30) marks the 10th edition of the Amsterdam RAI Dernyrace, a "special" category event that is raced behind motorbikes. It is an invitation event and started as a women's race in 1991, won by Ingrid Haringa. However, one year later the organiser Harry Mater turned it into a men's event won for the first time by Olaf Ludwig. The past winners list is impressive: Haringa, Ludwig, Sörensen, Museeuw, Nijdam, Ballerini, Van Bon, Den Bakker, and last year, Michael Boogerd. The latter had success of another type last year, as he met with Nerena Ruinemans (the 'Rondemiss') and the two began a romance.

This year, Boogerd will again be on the start line alongside many other top names: Freire, Museeuw, Blijlevens, Van Petegem, Hincapie, Hoffman, and even a couple of Australians in O'Grady and Hayman. He had the following comments about the race:

"I've done this race three times and three times I was empty at the finish line. It's one of the most special races of the year. In the beginning it seems easy. You ride very light, 53*15 or 53*14. But after a while the pain starts to grow. After half a hour you get heavy legs."

"Behind dernies is a beautiful discipline in cycling. I hope to win on Sunday for the second time. Our Rabobank-team was successful in the last few years. Leon van Bon in 1997, Maarten den Bakker in 1998 and I did it last year. I hope to ride behind Joop Zijlaard, 'the living legend'. I can ride very close on him, because we don't train behind dernies. The motor bike rider has to do the work. The cyclist has only to look in front of him and ram."

Start list

1 Oscar Freire
2 Michael Boogerd
3 Johan Museeuw
4 Mirko Celestino
5 Jeroen Blijlevens
6 Peter van Petegem
7 George Hincapie
8 Tristan Hoffman
9 Maarten den Bakker
10 Viatcheslav Ekimov
11 Geert van Bondt
12 Servais Knaven
13 Stuart O'Grady
14 Jans Koerts
15 Wilfried Peeters
16 Franco Ballerini
17 Matthew Hayman
18 Matthe Pronk
19 Magnus Backstedt
20 Adriano Baffi
21 Jimmi Madsen
22 Danny Stam
23 Robert Slippens
24 Michael Cornelisse
25 Rudi Kemna

Filippo Casagrande

Yes there is another, and he is no relation to Stefano Casagranda, but he is the younger brother of Francisco. He even rides for the same team (Vini Caldirola), making his professional debut five years ago in 1995 (Brescialat). He won a stage in the Giro d'Italia that year, before abandoning. In 1996, he joined Scrigno-Blue Storm where he won 9 races, but has won nothing since.

Last year in September he was involved in training accident which kept him out of racing until the Memorial Cecchi Gori this year (March 22-26). He is getting back into a semblance of form, but is still playing the role of domestique for the moment. In Saturday's Amstel Gold, he rode for the team, abandoning before the finish when the pace was turned on. However, we may see him up there in this year's Giro d'Italia.

A little on Vini Caldirola

The Vini Caldirola-Sidermec team is the home of Romans Vainsteins (Lat), Francesco Casagrande (Ita) and Matthew White (Aus), all of whom have all had impressive early seasons. The team is currently ranked 6th according to the latest UCI standings and has the Giro d'Italia as its main goal in two and a half weeks time. It gained notoriety last year after being refused entry into the Tour de France because certain riders (Gontchar and Casagrande) were not considered by the STF to be 100% clean. This restriction did not apply to the Mercatone-Uno team who had undergone a spectacular exit from the Giro courtesy of its main man, Marco Pantani.

However, the team has avoided any controversy this year and has managed to be quite successful. The team has their headquarters in Mendrisio, Switzerland although their sponsors are Italian. Vini Caldirola is a large wine company based in Lombardy, and Sidermec is a metal working company in Romagna. Their president, Giuseppe Buda has been involved in cycling sponsorship for 20 years. The team is directed by Fabrizio Bontempi and Mario Beccia and ride De Rosa bikes.